The newly-elected Meretz party chair, MK Chaim Oron, affectionately known as “Jumas,” was born in 1940 in Ramat Gan. Having moved to Kibbutz Lahav in the Negev at the age of 18, he still resides there today with his wife and four children. He has served as national secretary of the National Kibbutz (Artzi) Federation and treasurer of the Histadrut trade union federation.
Oron was first elected to the Knesset in 1988 with the socialist Mapam party, one of the three parties that later formed Meretz. He has been a Mapam and then Meretz Member of Knesset ever since. In 2003, he was one of the drafters and signatories of the Geneva Initiative. More recently, Oron has been Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s liaison to jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. (Link to a more detailed biography at the Meretz USA Web site.)
Jumas has announced that Meretz will remain an opposition force that will play a role in moving the government toward a peace agreement with the Palestinian people and the Arab world, but others would like Meretz to play this role within the government coalition. (See the impassioned Haaretz editorial of March 20, “Bring Meretz into the Government.”)